You’re a very lucky client when your interior designer not only designs your home, but also comes back to help you put together your own holiday look—as designer Alykhan Velji and his team did for these homeowners in Calgary. Velji and senior designer Katie Nelson worked with Alloy Homes to craft the interior design and build of this mid-century-influenced home in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood for a family of three back in 2019, and then returned in time for Christmas to give it a little warm holiday flair.
Designer Aly Velji arranges a few of the unusual black berries they spotted at a wholesale florist for the design.
For the home itself, the couple wanted a modern space with personality—with the clear directive that they didn’t want anything too bright or too bold. And so Velji created a timeless design in a palette of black and white, with marble accents and a few hits of soft colour. On the main floor, the fireplace serves as a focal point and visual anchor to the space: clad in Carrara marble, it features an asymmetrical black millwork mantel. An area rug from West Elm, meanwhile, is a launching point for the soft pastels threaded through the space, including the soft blue on the mid-century-style reupholstered chairs and the pale pinks and creams throughout.
For the living area, the team brought in a few seasonal throw pillows—including a pink faux fur cover to cozy up the space.
These soft colours were the perfect inspiration for a more unusual holiday colour palette. “With this home, we wanted to create something super casual, but still sophisticated,” says Velji. So while the peach, blues and mint greens in the decorations aren’t totally out there—you’ll see another pastel holiday palette in this issue, on page 51—the addition of black is a little more unusual, Velji notes: “You don’t see a lot of black when it comes to holiday decor, but we thought it would be an interesting add-on, and create a bold statement. Something totally different.”
Katie Nelson, a senior designer on the AVD team, sets the holiday table.
On the dining table, the fabric runner isn’t a traditional holiday design, but instead a modern, geometric pattern. “It was a perfect find as it incorporates all the colours that we have going on in the space,” says Velji. “It’s not Christmassy in the traditional sense, but works really well with the whole scheme and adds a little pattern and texture. Something I love!”
Also throughout the home are classic evergreens—particularly on shelving in the kitchen, and along the bannister—and Velji’s team went to a floral wholesaler to find a few more surprising accents, like orange and black berries. (Not, of course, to be confused with the edible blackberries we enjoy on the West Coast in fall.) Pampas grasses and eucalyptus greens in a DIY wreath arrangement over the hearth are held together with black ribbon (you’ll find more black ribbon decoration on the Christmas tree as well). Wooden bead garlands both on the tree and in the staircase greenery keep the decor on a natural, organic bent—and beautifully bring in the wood tone of the floors.
In the dining room, the glass chandelier from Kuzco was selected to be both striking and unobtrusive. “Because the dining room is floating between the kitchen and the living area, we wanted something a little ethereal,” says Velji. “It’s almost a cloud-like fixture that’s floating in the space and not in the way.”
On the dining table, tiny wire Christmas trees of varying heights from HomeSense contribute to the mid-century vibe. Eucalyptus, spray-painted black, serves as a natural runner along the table, and a few gold candleholders bring in a little sparkle. Velji is a fan of using both silver and gold in a decor mix, and you’ll see that throughout, too. Really, his philosophy on combining these two metallics might well serve as his overarching concept for this holiday design. “So many people are stuck on using gold or silver,” he says. “But the mix makes it all so much better.”
Most of the ornaments on the tree are from Urban Barn. “The thing I love about these ornaments is they’re all a little different,” says Velji. “There are birds that add a glam touch, especially the ones with elongated tails that make a great statement on the tree, glass ornaments that have a handmade quality, and more organic forms creating a great mix of styles.”